Discomfort and Being in the Field(trip)

The gardener was harvesting sweet potatoes at Old Salem. Yum!

Miles run today: 3

Words written in my novel so far: 56,961

Bird nests we saw yesterday: 4

My ears hurt. My head hurts. I haven’t yet recovered from yesterday’s fourth grade field trip to Old Salem.

You wouldn’t believe how loud a bus full of fourth graders can be.

What?!?!

What’s that you’re saying?

Sorry. I couldn’t hear you.

When we arrived in Old Salem, a 1700s-era Moravian settlement, my six little female charges for the trip clustered around me as we looked at the map. (Maps again!)

“I’m hungry!” one piped up. It was 9:30 a.m.

“Me, too,” I said. “Too bad for us, right?”

One of the little girls in my group could have turned out to be an issue. But she had an uncanny knack for spying birds’ nests in the most unlikely places. We walked through a covered bridge, and she found a dove with her baby in the rafters. We visited the old fire station, and she saw an abandoned nest in the corner. And when we stopped to wait for a couple of stragglers along the sidewalk (there were always stragglers), she found a nest tucked way, way back under some vines.

Her bird-watching was very charming. Her hunger was alarming.

She kept walking up to me, sniffing in the area of my neck and saying, “You smell like food, and I’m hungry!”

I wondered whether I smelled like a bacon cheeseburger or tiramisu, but I was afraid to ask. I was a little concerned that she might bite off my arm when I least expected it.

When a wild turkey gobble-gobbled up in front of a parked car along our route, her eyes grew big. A bird. And a source of food. I didn’t want to get in the middle of that.

“Come on, girls! Let’s go get some ice cream!” I sang out, charging forward, Mary Poppins-style.

Even Moravian settlers had a weakness for ice cream, I suppose.

We learned about sugar making, crop growing, fire eliminating, baking, fire making, tavern attending before the Temperance movement made life a whole lot less fun, and pulleys. I found out about Lattimer, an African American who devised improvements in Edison’s original lightbulb design, and the tightly-strung ropes that served as a mattress foundation, which is what “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” was referring to. I even discovered that Moravians had kitchens that were attached to the house and cellars, unlike most of the other American homes of the era.

I correctly identified mustard greens by taste and found out more than I ever wanted to know about the differences among sweet potatoes, potatoes and yams. (All, in my opinion, are yummy in my tummy.)

I felt sorry for the poor Moravians who never knew the comforts of central heating, box springs or Cadbury’s chocolate. They didn’t know what it was like to build sand castles while wearing a bikini or the joys of sweatpants.

They also didn’t have to deal with a bus full of riotous fourth graders.

My group was the last group on the bus, due to a long period of me herding catlike fourth grade girls out of the gift shop.

“Look! There are some seats at the back of the bus!” I said, pointing. Then I dropped into a seat way, way up at the front.

At least up there, no one tried to eat my arm.

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